HWASEONG, South Korea — Hyundai's fledgling Genesis luxury brand wants to start its U.S. dealership spinoff next year and finish the transition by the end of 2020.
Genesis aims to establish shop standards by the end of this year to clear the way for independent U.S. showrooms, Genesis General Manager Erwin Raphael said.
The move is part of a retail overhaul to give Genesis a distinct identity, separate from the Hyundai brand, and cull the number of dealers selling the brand to boost individual dealer profitability. Since the brand's creation in late 2015, Genesis has been sold alongside mass-market Hyundai models in the U.S.
"The reality is, many, many luxury customers tell us they love our products, they're amazing, but I'm not going into a Hyundai store to buy it," Raphael told Automotive News in September on the sidelines of the Genesis G70 sport sedan launch here at the Hyundai Motor Group's global r&d center outside Seoul.
"It's really hard to have the two cultures cohabitating," Raphael said. The split, he said, would benefit customers and dealers. "We realize it's complicated, but it's necessary."
The shift will leave "substantially" fewer dealers selling Genesis vehicles, the brand boss said, but he declined to say how many would be dropped.
Hyundai allows any of its 835 dealerships nationwide to sell the Genesis G80 sedan. Of those stores, 352 have opted to carry the larger G90 sedan, which requires them to create a showroom-within-a-showroom for the Genesis brand.
New Genesis showrooms will be stand-alone. Raphael said the company is scouting locations in each market, prioritizing new sites as opposed to taking over or renovating sites already in operation.
Genesis wants to finish the spinoff by the end of 2020, when the brand expands its lineup to six.
"That's when we'll have the right numbers where we think it's reasonable for dealers to invest," Raphael said.